Newsletter Spring 2016

Tax-free meals

Employees who are away from their main workplace because they are working at a temporary site, or are travelling for business reasons, can claim reimbursement for the cost of meals eaten during those periods. There is no cap on the amount that can be claimed from their employer, but the employee must provide receipts to support the expense.

In practice, most employers impose a cap on what can be claimed for meals. Since 2009, HMRC has accepted that employers can reimburse the cost of meals where receipts are not provided, if the cost is no more than a benchmark rate, varying from £5 for breakfast to £15 for an evening meal.

From 6 April 2016, a new set of maximum rates for meal costs with no receipts will apply. These rates vary according to the number of hours the employee is away from his normal workplace: £5 for at least five hours, to £25 for 15 or more hours. An additional meal costing up to £10 can be claimed if the employee is still travelling at 8pm.

These meal rates are payable in addition to the cost of travel, which includes travelling to a temporary workplace. The new rates cannot be paid as part of a salary sacrifice arrangement. Do ask us about reimbursement of meal costs and travelling expenses – there is more to this topic than meets the eye.